New Bing Crosby Irish music released
Jenny Lee chats to American actress Mary Crosby about her father Bing, his love of Ireland and her own acting career, which included shooting JR Ewing in Dallas
BING Crosby’s daughter Mary Crosby is “beyond delighted” to see previously unreleased Irish songs of her father’s feature in a new recording ahead of St Patrick’s Day.
Bing Crosby’s Irish Songbook offers a glimpse into a lesser-known side of Crosby's repertoire, highlighting his appreciation for the rich musical traditions of Ireland.
“I am beyond delighted, as is our entire family with this new Irish Songbook album. Ireland was so deeply in dad's heart and his songs reflect that,” says LA-based Mary, Crosby’s only daughter, from his second marriage to actress Kathryn Grant.
Mary, together with her mother and brother Harry still feel a deep connection to Ireland and are delighted to release an album showcasing their father’s love for Irish culture and his unique interpretation of traditional ballads and upbeat jigs.
“Ireland was so deeply in dad's heart and his songs reflect that. He always loved singing the Irish songs.
“Our family is so happy to have the opportunity of getting dad's voice and talent back out to the public in a new and fresh way.”
Bing Crosby, who passed away in 1977, was acclaimed in the worlds of recording, radio, and motion pictures. He won the 1944 Oscar for Best Actor in Going My Way and was honoured by all three mediums with stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
His musical legacy is unparalleled, with 41 number one hits, including the best-selling single of all time, White Christmas.
Mary admits that at first hearing her father’s voice was difficult, but now she loves hearing his voice and sharing it with new generations.
“The first few years after dad died it was very bittersweet to hear his voice. I missed him so much. Now all these years later, it's simply wonderful to hear him and know that people still get to enjoy him today.
“I believe dad's music and his voice resonates with all generations, including the young ones, because he was a completely honest singer. Not only was his voice lovely to listen to, but he sings with no artifice. And I think when any artist, be they a singer or an actor or a dancer, does it with complete honesty, they will connect with people forever.”
All the song masters on Bing Crosby’s Irish Songbook pulled from Bing’s old radio tapes and his 1967 television special, A Little Bit of Irish.
Featuring timeless classics such as Galway Bay and Isle of Innisfree, as well as rare recordings, such as My Wild Irish Rose, the album showcases Crosby’s remarkable vocal range and versatility.
“I think that his fans will be both surprised and thrilled to hear new treasures in terms of songs that have not been heard before,” says the 63-year-old, who struggles to choose just one favourite.
“I love too many of them for different reasons. Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral is a song he sang when we got to perform with him and When Irish Eyes Are Smiling was a song that I heard as a child a lot.
“Did Your Mother Come From Ireland is just so beautiful and I love that no one has heard Johnny Doughboy Found a Rose in Ireland and My Wild Irish Rose. They are hidden treasures.”
Another track on the album is St Patrick’s Day Parade and Mary has fond memories of celebrating on March 17 and of visiting the homeland of her ancestors.
“We always grew up knowing we were Irish and that was very much part of our history. We always celebrate St Patrick’s and our family always will. Corn beef it is,” she laughs.
“When I was nine, I spent the summer at Deirdre Gallagher's home in County Kerry. She was our nanny and her family was deeply kind to me. Dad performed at the Gaiety Theatre and we got to tag along.
“In 2015 I was invited to the Irish Derby as it was the 50th anniversary of dad's horse Meadow Court winning. I was fortunate to come with my husband and our two boys and we were all completely spoiled, taken everywhere and the people were absolutely fantastic.
“I came again in 2019 and the warmth and humour of everybody that I met was a joy.”
Mary went on to follow her footsteps onto the screen, most notably playing Kristin Shepard, Sue Ellen Ewing’s scheming sister in the soap opera Dallas.
Her character is best remembered for her part in the cliffhanger ending of the 1979–1980 season, with her ultimately revealed as the person who pulled the trigger and shot JR Ewing.
“Dallas was a joy. So much fun. I am proud to be a trivial pursuit question. The best part of Dallas was, of course, Larry Hagman and his wife Maj who were beloved friends for the rest of their lives.
In an ultimate show of forgiveness, she even reveals that JR actor Larry Hagman walked her down the aisle on her wedding day.
“I told him he had ruined my reputation and now he must make me an honourable woman.”
:: Bing Crosby’s Irish Songbook is released on March 10